As letting agents settle into the New Year and focus on how to improve their businesses in 2018, PropTech firm PayProp has come up with five possible resolutions for lettings professionals.
Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp in the UK, had this to say: “After a highly eventful 2017, there's likely to be more change this year and it will be the agents who are prepared and ready to adapt to industry changes who will be the most successful.
It’s important to set achievable and measurable goals and the implementation of New Year’s business resolutions in January is always a good place to start.
1. Use high-profile events to your marketing advantage
2018 is a year with several high-profile events, with the Royal Wedding in May and the football World Cup in June and July likely to be two of the most prominent.
A marketing campaign referencing a specific event could be more effective and allow agents to communicate their message to landlords and tenants in a more fun, topical and relatable way.
2. Get your GDPR house in order
May 25 is known as 'GDPR day', as General Data Protection Regulation replaces the Data Protection Act of 1998. Firms that don't comply with the new rules could be hit with big fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Agents should have been preparing for GDPR for some time now. It's a huge change and one that affects the way businesses store, process and collect data.
Being proactive and communicating to your clients that you are GDPR-ready could position your firm favourably in comparison to your competitors.
3. Embrace the PropTech revolution
PropTech is no longer a new phenomenon and most agents will be familiar with it. There are many established PropTech providers servicing the lettings sector and partnering with the right firms could help agents become more efficient and profitable.
As PropTech becomes more established, the number of start-ups and providers offering solutions will continue to rise. Agents therefore need to do their research and determine which products and services are the best fit for their business.
4. Respond to government consultations
In recent times, there has been a spike in the number of consultations outlining potential changes to the rental sector. In the Autumn of 2017, for example, there were over ten consultations relating to rental reform.
These projects provide letting agents with the opportunity to share their viewpoints and experience on issues which are likely to affect them in the future.
With the government's continued focus on reforming and regulating the private rental sector, it's vital that agents take the time to respond to the frequently released consultation documents on proposed industry changes.
Agents' insight is invaluable and can help to influence the decisions of policymakers, increasing the chances of fair and fit-for-purpose legislation being introduced in the future.
5. Have a clear strategy for the lettings fees ban
There is still no confirmed date for the formal introduction of the ban on up-front letting agent fees charged to tenants. However, it is has been confirmed that it will be introduced in spring 2019 at the earliest.
The change in the law will have a significant impact on the way many agents run their businesses and so preparation for an industry without up-front fees will be key to agents’ survival over the next few years.
Cobbold concludes: "A lot of agents will already have a plan in place to ensure they don't come unstuck when the outright ban on fees is finally introduced.
Incorporating more tech to streamline processes will help letting agents, while exploring alternative revenue streams will also be crucial as ultimately the revenue generated by fees will need to be replaced.”